TITLE: IT'S A WONDERFUL FILE by Alison
(Sorry about the title - I couldn't resist the pun!
FEEDBACK: Please! email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, of course.
ARCHIVE: Lone Gunmen Mailing List, anywhere else just ask
SPOILERS: Minor for Unusual Suspects
SUMMARY: What would Mulder see, if he got the chance to see what
the world would have been like without him?
NOTE: Yes, this is my entirely inadequate tribute to that great
Christmas film, "It's a Wonderful Life."
"Strange isn't it. Each man's life touches so many other lives, and
when he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"
(Clarence, from "It's a Wonderful Life")
11 pm, Christmas Eve 2001
"I wish I was dead."
Mulder leaned on the parapet of the river and stared down into the
icy waters of the Potomac swirling past below him. Black, cold,
deep and dark; just like his mood this Christmas Eve. But even
the water had somewhere to go. "I don't have anywhere to go. No
job any more, no-one cares if I live or die. I can't even see
Scully and Will any more. I wish I'd never been born."
He stared across the river to where the floodlit tip of the
Washington Monument was just visible above the trees. Strange to
think that until, just a few months ago, this place had been his
home. Till just a few weeks after Will's birth, when in a fit of
reckless self-sacrifice he had told Scully he had to stay away from
her, for her safety and that of her child. With no job to go back
to, it had been easy at the time to tell himself he was doing the
right thing. To turn himself into a rootless wanderer, crisscrossing
the country revisiting the sites of some of his old cases, trying to
tell himself he still had a purpose in life. Constantly travelling,
but with his thoughts always pulling him back to Washington and
He had been relying on the Gunmen to keep tabs on her for him, and
they had performed heroically, providing him with weekly reports of
her welfare and of Will's progress. He had come to rely on the
regular emails and phone conversations with them, usually Byers, as
the one link to sanity.
Then, with Christmas coming, he had taken the chance of returning to
Washington. Even if he couldn't see her in the flesh, to know she
was so close by brought some comfort. And he could visit the
Gunmen, catch up on what they had been doing. He hadn't realised
how much he had missed seeing them.
And when he turned up at the warehouse earlier that evening, at
first it had been like old times. Everyone was exactly the same;
and it was reassuring to slap Frohike on the back and ask how the
video collection was growing, to peer with mock concern at Langly's
receding hairline, and pretend astonishment that Byers was wearing a
And the way they had clustered round him, slapping him on the back,
welcoming him with the same old banter and showing him the latest
edition of the paper. Eager to give him the latest news of Scully,
to print out the latest picture of her with Will.
Over pizza the conversation had widened to what they had all been
doing, and it had been good to pour out the experiences of the last
few months. In return he had heard about their latest ventures.
They had a new partner now; money for new equipment had enabled
them to bring in some big stories. Life had been good for the
It took a while for Mulder to realise he was jealous; but the
feeling grew on him as they recounted their travels; to Florida and
Texas to name but two. He had been itching to tell them about what
*he* had been doing; but their lives had been just as eventful. A
bubble of resentment began to grow in his mind.
If he had been honest with himself, he had always slightly
patronised the Gunmen even while he accepted their help. If he
thought about it at all, he had told himself that they used him as
much as he used them; but somehow he had always had a slightly
superior, condescending attitude. But now it appeared that the
Gunmen had been doing very well without his help. And they knew
more about Scully now than he did. Envy, like an itch you must
eventually scratch, niggled at him. How dare they talk about Scully
so possessively, with such familiarity, when he had been out on the
road, missing her desperately every day.
He tried several times to get them to realise how difficult it had
been for him; how lonely he was without her, without their son.
How much he missed her; how much he had given up for her. Maybe it
was the long days alone that prevented him from hearing the whine in
his own voice.
Perhaps he tried too hard; because eventually it was the usually
even-tempered Byers whose patience snapped.
"Give us a break, Mulder. You'd think you were the only man ever who
couldn't be with the woman he loved."
Ouch. Mulder remembered too late what lay in Byers' past; how
uncomplainingly he had endured the last ten years without the woman
he had loved for so long.
Somehow after that there was a barrier of uneasiness between him and
the Gunmen; as if the last few months had taken him further away
than mere geographical distance. As the time went on towards
midnight he made as if to leave, half expecting them to urge him to
stay; but they seemed grateful to see him go. And so by stages he
found his way down to the river; with one vital detour to a liquor
store where he found the comfort he had been looking for all
He hiccuped and brushed away a tear of self-pity. Alone on
Christmas Eve . . . alone except for the company of a now half-
empty bottle of whiskey. "No-one wants me. Samantha's gone. Mom
and Dad are gone. No-one would notice if I lived or died."
He leaned further over the railing. The water rushed by
hypnotically. It would be so easy . . . lean out a little further,
let gravity take him, let the water take him. It would be over
quickly in the icy winter water.
He was jerked out of his reverie by a loud scream and splash below
him as a large object hit the water a little to his left. Someone
else was in the river! Instinct and training took over and his
shoes and jacket hit the ground in an instant. Another second and
he made a clean dive into the water.
The water was so cold it burned; but as he surfaced he was already
looking around for the other man. The current was already taking
them both downstream, but miraculously his reaching hands almost
immediately grabbed something heavy thrashing in the water. He took
a firm grip and struck out for the bank, turning on his back and
Several minutes later he crawled out onto a narrow stony beach,
dragging the struggling, retching body with him. At least the
stupid bastard's still alive . . . he struggled to his hands and
knees, coughing and spitting out what seemed like half the contents
of the river. Several minutes seemed to pass before he was in a fit
condition to worry about his companion, but he heard the person
beside him struggle to their feet first.
"Are you okay?"
The voice from above him was a complete surprise. Female: and
English. And entirely self possessed and calm, not the voice of
someone who had just been dragged out of a freezing river in the
middle of the night. Mulder looked up in confusion. The young
woman standing over him didn't look the slightest bit wet or
bedraggled. In fact she looked perfectly normal, except for the
fact that she was dressed in a highly inappropriate skimpy top and
miniskirt on a freezing winter night. But she didn't seem to feel
the cold in the slightest. She was looking down at him with her
arms folded, frowning disapprovingly.
"Are you okay? I was worried about you there for a minute. I was
only just in time!"
"What do you mean? I pulled a guy out of the river . . . where is
he? Who are you?"
The girl shook her head. "You've got it the wrong way round, Fox.
*I* rescued *you*!
"Hold on a minute! Someone jumped in the river, and I jumped after
him! Then you turned up. Where's the guy in the river?"
"That was me. I jumped in . . . to save you."
"C'mon now, what do you mean, you saved me? And how do you know
my name? "
The English girl sat down beside him on the bank, and jumped up
again quickly with a pained expression. "Shit, it's cold out here.
Come on, we should get you dry. Let's get back to the car. I'll
explain as we go."
Mulder scrambled up and squelched after her as she walked briskly
back towards where he had left the car. The cold seemed to have
penetrated to his very bones, his brain felt numb and slow. But .
. . how DID she know his name? How did she know where his car was?
And how was it - if she'd been in the water - her clothes were dry?
She was twenty yards ahead of him by the time she reached the car,
and waited impatiently for him, leaning on the hood. ""Come on, we
haven't got all night!" He fumbled with numb hands for the keys in
his pants pocket. Oh fuck, they must've fallen out in the river.
"Sorry" he mumbled apologetically.
"Oh, for goodness sake . . ." and she snapped her fingers in the
direction of the car. The doors sprang open. "Get in, before you
Mulder slid into the driver's seat as the girl took the passenger
seat. He was shivering so hard now he couldn't speak. She frowned
and reached across, putting one hand on the top of his head.
Instantly a bolt of glorious warmth shot through Mulder's whole
body, tingling, like he'd been dipped in hot water. He gasped in
shock, losing his eyes for a second. When he opened them, he felt
completely normal, Warm through, dry, relaxed and alert. He gaped
at her in astonishment. "How did you do that?"
She waved dismissively. "Oh, it's easy. Do you feel better now?"
"Yes . . . hey, my clothes! My clothes are dry! How . . . how did
you do that? Who are you?"
"Um. Well, this is the hard part. Er . . ."
"Come on, what's this all about? You make me jump in the river,
then you say you saved me, and then . . ."
"I suppose you could say that I'm your guardian angel."
Mulder rested his head on the steering wheel, his eyes shut. Oh
god, I'm hallucinating. Too much JB . . . I dreamed I jumped in the
river and this freaky girl pulled me out and . . . He opened his
She was still there, looking at him with a worried frown.
"I'm sorry, I thought you just said you were my guardian angel."
"Well, I suppose that's the best way to describe it. On a kind of
"Oh yeah? What happened to the regular guy? Oh, wait a minute.
It's Christmas Eve. I forgot, you're all real busy this time of
"Well, I suppose you could say you're a special assignment. I . . .
I have to show you something."
"Sorry, lady, I'm not interested. You should have done your
research better. I'm off the X-files, if you didn't know. Now go
away and quit bothering me. Go find Agent Reyes instead."
"Agent Reyes isn't the one who was thinking of killing herself
"I didn't . . . hey, how did you know . . . "
"You would have, if I hadn't stopped you. You said you wished you
were dead. You said everyone would be better off if you'd never
"It's true . . ."
"So that's what I'm here to show you."
"You're about to get your wish. You've never been born. And I'm
going to show you what that would mean for all the people who care
She snapped her fingers again. Mulder gasped in shock as the cold
night air hit him. They were standing in the road - exactly where
the car had been. "Hey! Where's my car?"
"You don't have a car. You don't exist. You weren't here tonight."
"Buh . . . how'd you do that? My car!"
"I told you, Fox, you don't have a car. You don't exist, remember?
Now come on, we've got a lot to do tonight." She fumbled in a
pocket and pulled out what looked like a cellphone or a handheld
computer, and pressed a couple of buttons. "Let's see . . ah yes.
First stop . . . Takoma Park. Come on, take my hand."
Mulder flinched back as she took his hand in a firm and very real
grip. "Hold tight now, it wouldn't do for me to drop you!"
Mulder's breath was taken away as the landscape faded to black.
Their surroundings came back with a "pop" and a jolt as if they had
dropped a few inches into the familiar back alley just down the road
from the Lone Gunmen's lair. Mulder whimpered. "How . . ."
"How did I do that? Never mind, come on."
The girl turned abruptly and marched off towards the Gunmen's HQ.
Mulder stood looking after her in astonishment for a second, then
rushed to keep up.
"You know, you don't look like any angel I've ever heard about. I
know what an angel is supposed to look like. Where are the wings,
the long white robe, the long blonde hair?"
She looked momentarily taken aback. Mulder felt smug. Certainly
she didn't look much like any angel he had ever seen in a
Renaissance painting. Angels weren't supposed to be short and plump
and wearing glasses.
She looked embarrassed. "Actually, I haven't got my wings yet.
That's why I'm here. I help you out, and I get my wings."
"You mean . . . you're some kind of intern? Couldn't they even
send a proper angel?"
"You're hardly in a position to complain, Fox! You're lucky to get
anyone to come out on Christmas Eve. Now, stop behaving like an
"Okay, MULDER -"
"And for an angel you're awfully bossy."
"How would you know?"
"And angels aren't supposed to swear like that!"
"What, you think we're all supposed to go round saying stuff like
'Lo' and 'Behold' and 'Fear Not'? I talk like I did when I was
alive. I haven't been an angel very long you know."
"Oookayokay . . . what's your name, then?"
"Um . . . it's Lucy."
"Lucy! Whoever heard of the Angel Lucy!"
"I didn't choose it, right? Any more than you chose FOX!"
They glared at each other for a minute, standing face to face in the
They were interrupted by the chirrup of a cellphone. Mulder
automatically searched his pockets, but the girl shook her head.
"Not yours . . you don't have one, remember? It's mine. Yes,
hello . . hi Joseph. Yes, yes, everything's okay here. Yeah,
he's a real pain in the backside, isn't he? Yeah, talk to ya later.
Mulder fidgeted and shivered. "Hey, it's cold out here. If we're
here to see the guys, let's get indoors." He led off towards the
Gunmen's high security door. The girl followed, a serious
expression on her face. "It's about to get a lot colder."
Lucy leaned against the wall, watching Mulder. He had been
hammering on the door for the last five minutes. "Frohike! Byers!
Langly! It's Mulder, let me in!"
"They don't live here, Mulder. They never have."
"What do you mean, of course they do! If I could just get in . . ."
The girl sighed. "Oh, we can get in, if you want to." She pointed
at the door and snapped her fingers again. There was a click and
the door swung open. Mulder plunged inside. "Guys! Where are you?"
Dead blackness met him, the cold dankness of a place that hadn't
been lived in for a very long time. He stumbled in the dark and
nearly fell. Abruptly light filled the room, and he turned to see
Lucy standing there with her hand raised. The black box had turned
into a glowing globe in her palm.
"Look around you, Mulder. No-one lives here."
Mulder forced himself to look around the familar room. Huge,
echoing and empty, littered with broken pieces of furniture and
packing cases, piles of trash of all descriptions. Broken panels
hung from the ceiling, from the piles of trash indicated that the
warehouse was not entirely uninhabited.
He turned full circle, a terrible suspicion amassing in his chest.
"Where have they gone? What have you done with them?"
"They were never here, Mulder. The Lone Gunmen only got together
because of you. You were never born, so they never got started."
He crossed the space between them in two swift strides, grabbed her
shoulder. "Where are they?"
She looked down and away, uncomfortably. "I can show you, Mulder.
But you won't like it."
END OF PART 1